303E: NYC resident replaces priceless art at museums with forgeries; no one notices

I read this book as a young adult in the early 1980s, so it must be older than that. The book is NOT From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

As I recall it, there is a character who lives a modest life in New York City. The character is a passionate painter. He/she meticulously recreates great masterpieces, then from time to time sneaks into the Metropolitan Museum of Art (or possibly some other museum) and replaces an original with a forgery. Over the years, he/she has done this a dozen times, but no one ever discovers that the paintings are forgeries. The originals then sit in his/her modest apartment. The forger makes no money off his/her expert forging talents. A few of the forger’s friends know he/she does this, but there is never any sense that the forger will get caught.

This character may not be the main character of the book. I seem to remember that the book had an ensemble of unusual characters.

It is possible that the forger character, or another character, lived in Central Park.

 

This is probably a young adult book.

 

Thanks!

303D: A boy draws pictures that come alive

I am looking for the name of a book about a boy who draws pictures that come alive(read in the 80’s to my kids). He draws money/treasure for a “gimpy old man” in the park.(And other things for other people?) People fight over it so he rips up or erases the drawing and the money/treasure disappears. He decides to draw a small dragon which comes to life and he goes home. Thank you

303C: Beauty and the Beast fiction anthology

I’m hunting down a fiction anthology that involved “Beauty and the Beast” riffs. One of the riffs involved a perfect couple (I think New Yorkers) with a perfect life–and the wife was slowly beginning to think that her beautiful, flawless, successful, doting husband had a terrible double life as a beast in a city reeling from a series of bloody, violent attacks. I’m fairly sure it was published in softcover in the late 1980s to mid 1990s. One detail that really stands out to me is that when the husband came home late one night, the wife noticed a drop of blood on his cheek and realized that he was the beast–which left her in a whole bunch of serious dilemmas, most of which were left as cliffhangers. This was only one of many stories in the book, but it really left an impression. If I recall correctly, most of the writers in the anthology were women. I was way into Sheri S. Tepper and other female authors at the time, if that helps, but I don’t think it was her story collection “Beauty.” I hope you can find it! Thanks 🙂

303B: The dead man’s childhood mementos

I am 66 years old, but when I was in elementary school in Mountain View, CA, I read a short story in some reading textbook (probably from the 1950s) that I have thought about ever since. It was a “Western”. I do not remember the story’s title, but there was an illustration showing a rough-looking man in black who was an outlaw and who was being hunted by a sheriff (I think for murder).

The outlaw made it to a place where he had buried what the reader was led to believe was a treasure box. When he was killed, and the authorities opened the box, it was filled with the dead man’s little childhood mementos.

There was an illustration of the open box as well.

It had a profound effect on me, and I would love to be able to read it again.

 

303A: Animal friends eat sweets

I’m looking for a children’s book I recall from the late 60’s to early 70’s. The character, possibly a bear, and his friends were surrounding a cake that was sitting on a log, if I remember correctly, on one of the pages.  Every time I see a Boston Cream Pie I think of the book because of the icing, I believe.  I think the cake got knocked to the ground and got sand or dirt on it. The character may have also tried to get too many cookies from the cookie jar and gotten his hand stuck, but that could be another book that just blends with the other memory. I received this book along with Hansel and Gretel as a child of maybe 4 or 5 years old. I’ve often wondered what it was. Any help would be appreciated.

302Z: A flower pot for a hat?

Vintage children’s picture book about mixed up (hillbilly?) family that drives a crazy car, lives in a goofy house, wears funny clothing (a flower pot for a hat?), and paints their farm animals (pig? goat? cow? chicken?) funny colors. The son’s name is something like Oscar Idis Nooney and the other family members (father, mother, daughter) have similar names. It has to be vintage 40s or early 50s. No idea about the title but it was a favorite of my father’s. He was born in 1941.

 

302Y: Strange “activity” book

I’ve posted about this elsewhere, but there’s a strange book from my childhood that both my sister and I remember.  I say activity book, but it wasn’t really an activity book. There was no place to draw or anything in the book. Here are some details:

*It was probably published around 1980-1985, I would have read it from 1987-1991, and I believe it was my sister’s before I got it. It was about a 2nd to 5th grade reading level. Some pics, some text.

*The cover was a dark blue/teal, the title was a garish reddish color, and there was a knight on it

*I remember the title being kind of long, and ending with the words “…for kids!”

*The book was really non-sequitur, and went all over the place. One page might be a math puzzle, the next might be a story about baseball.

*There was a recurring theme of a medieval knight throughout the whole thing, and he would just pop up randomly to comment on stuff

*There were a lot of jokes about “the author/publisher of this book blah blah blah” and “the editors of this book blah blah blah.” Probably way over my head at the time.

*The last page was a memorization game

*I believe there was one page with a large blue square on it, and a paragraph talking about the significance of that square.

*There was at least one math word problem, and I believe it involved crickets or grasshoppers

*There was a story about baseball, maybe about the history of baseball?

*There was a brief page about lead in pencils, and how it’s called lead, but it’s really graphite

 

As for the style of the book, it’s almost as if a bunch of people with a similar sense of humor got together and decided to make a kids book, but not talk to each other about it. It was that bizarre. Almost every page was a different subject, and the only recurring motif at all was the random knight. The book constantly broke the fourth wall, and the writer(s) would make fun of the characters on that page, or the random knight would make fun of the author(s). Someone stated that it sounds like Monty Python, and it was a lot in that same vein of humor. If Monty Python made a kids book, it would be very similar to the one I’m looking for.

It’s entirely possible that it was written by a group of people, and possibly as a joke.

For what it’s worth, my grandmother lived in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area of North Carolina during my youth (the 1980’s). She had moved there from northern New Jersey in the late 1970s. She was a kindergarten teacher for most of her life.  Furthermore, her sister (my great-aunt) had actually published a few books (one of them a children’s book) during the 1960s, and lived in Washington DC until the mid 1980s. So there were strong ties in those places. The book could have been published by a small publisher in any of those places, and somehow made it’s way to my grandmother.

Again, thanks for your help!

302X: A crazy quilt in various shades of red

Looking for a YA novel written in the 60’s or early (I read it in the mid-70’s) but it was set in the early 20th century in a rural area. A group of girls need to make a crazy quilt in various shades of red—I can’t remember why—so they had to beg, borrow and steal fabric to make it. One of the girls goes to the general store with her father who is color blind and convinces him to buy a bolt of a particularly lurid shade of scarlet for a dress for her mother who was far from pleased when she received it.

302W: Squirrels in Trees

Somewhere between 1953-1956, on my evening trips with my father to the Rochester (NY) Public Library on Winton Road near University Avenue, in my wanderings among the children’s stacks, I found at my eye level a book about 7”x 5”, about 1/2” thick,  that had a brown cover with an illustration of squirrels. It was about squirrels and other animals in the forest. But squirrels were the stars.

Each page had maybe two short paragraph’s worth of words – maybe three sentences each.  Each page had illustrations too.  It was the first book that looked to me like a “real” book, not a children’s read-to-by-an-adult book.  It was a book I could read, meant to be read by me in solitude.

I read it over and over. I just remember the squirrels, the brownish-orange of the cover, the lovely large print, but not so large that there weren’t paragraphs. The squirrels were very happy  in their forest lives; I was so happy in my reading life.

Not much to go on, that’s for sure. I just paid my four dollars, though. Why not try?

 

302V: Travels through alternate universes and baseball

Possibly a book, possibly a series – listened to as an audio book on a car trip in the early 2000’s. The book was from Cracker Barrel (which is apparently Ingram Entertainment titles, if that helps). The book followed three protagonists, a girl and two boys. They traveled to other worlds or alternate universes through tunnels. The other worlds usually had some sort of baseball theme. At least one had a society of gnomes who used it as their court procedures. The girl protagonist was a pitcher. The had a map that helped them find the way – depending on how it was folded, it could show a neighborhood, a city or even be a star map. The antagonists had eyes you could see through, all the way to what was on the other side of their heads – photographs of Manhattan Project scientists showed that many of them were bad guys due to this effect.